Montague export facility plans
Fruit company, Montague, is to build a new $26 million packing and export distribution centre in Melbourne’s Narre Warren North, creating 25 jobs.
Established in 1948, the family-owned business is a major Australian grower, wholesaler and exporter of apples, pears and stone fruit.
Its grower network has planted approximately 1.5 million fruit trees to meet rising export demand from Asia – a 16 per cent boost in the Victoria’s total fruit tree stock.
Montague has a value chain alliance with 45 apple and stone fruit growers located across the Gippsland, Goulburn Valley, Harcourt, Mornington Peninsula, Swan Hill and Yarra Valley areas, who will supply the export distribution centre.
The new 18,000 square state-of-the-art facility, being built with help from the Victorian Government, will provide end-to-end export logistics services.
It will provide the production and distribution infrastructure required to significantly increase Montague Group’s export capabilities, including packing, palletising, pre-cooling, inspections, documentation, container loading and freight forwarding.
MLA voting starts
Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) members have until November 19 to submit voting entitlement and proxy forms ahead of the upcoming Canberra annual general meeting on November 21.
AGM packs have been mailed to producer members with information on how they can vote if unable to attend the AGM, being held in conjunction with the industry’s free flagship event, Red Meat 2018 from November 20 to 22.
Producers have the opportunity to directly elect one cattle producer to MLA’s board selection committee from nominees, Brad Eaton, Mick Hewitt and Mike Decman.
A vote will also be held to fill two directorships on MLA’s board, with two nominees, Professor Manny Noakes and Ms Jo Pye, already shortlisted from a pool of 97 applicants.
Votes can be submitted online at www.computershare.com.au/mlavoting
Wineries could do more
Opportunities to increase direct-to-consumer sales through paid tastings, food and wine pairings and enhanced wine tourism experiences feature as key findings in Wine Australia’s first cellar door and direct-to-consumer survey.
The peak wine marketing body’s August 2018 survey of 180 wine companies was part of an $50 million export and regional wine support package paid by the federal government.
It showed winery cellar doors accounted for 44 per cent direct-to-consumer sales, ahead of wine clubs and mail orders.
Direct-to-consumer sales represented 10pc of all domestic wine sales among survey respondents.
Wineries producing less than 1000 cases relied on direct avenues for 68pc of sales, while those in the 1000 to 5000 case bracket had 40pc sales via direct channels.
In contrast, wine brands producing more than 50,000 cases recorded just 4pc of sales through direct channels.
About 65pc of Australian wineries bottle less than 5000 cases, highlighting the value of direct channels to most of wine businesses.
The survey also revealed only 29pc of respondents charged for wine tastings, yet US research showed paid tastings translated into more sales.
“Although 86pc of respondents offered food, such as a restaurant or platters, only 28pc of cellar doors offered matched food and wine tasting experiences,” said Wine Australia chief executive Andreas Clark.
Power company trust slides
Electricity customer satisfaction continues to slide with latest data from research group, Roy Morgan, showing the proportion of “very” or “fairly” satisfied customers down to 60.9 per cent in the year to September 2018, compared with 61.7pc a year ago, and 73.5pc 20 years ago.
A net trust score for about half of all electricity providers showed more consumers distrusted them than trusted them.
Simply Energy has top spot in this year’s customer satisfaction stakes, with 67pc of customers “very” or “fairly” satisfied with their electricity provider, while Red Energy placed second (66pc) and Alinta third (63pc).
Big providers, Energy Australia, AGL and Origin, had relatively low satisfaction levels around 60pc
New life for long life cream
Devondale’s long life thickened cream is returning to supermarket shelves, by popular demand.
A relaunched 250 millilitre pack (retailing for about $2.49) will be available initially in Woolworths, selected independent supermarkets and MG Trading stores nationwide from early November.
The product was discontinued in 2017 after the debt-burdened Murray Goulburn co-operative closed its factory in Tasmania where the line was was manufactured.
However, due to overwhelming customer sentiment, Devondale’s new brand owner Saputo Dairy Australia decided to relaunch the iconic whipable cream following its acquisition of Murray Goulburn’s activities in May.
The company was been delighted by the level of loyalty shown by consumers around Australia.
“We thank everyone who took the trouble to contact us – we have listened and hope you enjoy the return of this classic Australian product,” a company spokesman said.
The revived line features a re-closable package lid and is one standard cup in size, making it easier for cooking and baking.
Ag innovation focus
Brisbane plays host to Australia’s largest agricultural innovation trade fair, GFIA in Focus from November 27 to 28 as part of efforts by the federal government and farm sector to double national agricultural productivity to $100 billion by 2030.
The offshoot of internationally recognised Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture will be staged at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre drawing 2000-plus visitors from Australia and the Asia Pacific.
Many of these innovation exhibits will be in the areas of sustainable ag-tech across two key sectors: controlled environments and protected cropping, and precision agriculture and smart farming.
GFIA in Focus Australia is supported by some of Australia’s key agribusiness member organisations and will be opened on November 27 by Queensland’s Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Minister, Mark Furner.